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[RANT] The Witch Hunt on Video Games, featuring Doki Doki Literature Club

So, I guess technically this isn’t an anime post, but since I know a lot of my followers do play video games, and that Doki Doki Literature Club was very popular in the anime community, I wanted to share some thoughts. Expect some spoilers for DDLC, since it’s pretty hard to talk about without spoiling it.

The controversy surrounding video games and real life violence is a tale as old as time, and has been debated again and again, with neither side ever winning. And today, I wake up to a news article once again linking video games to violence, except this time, it links Doki Doki Literature Club to the suicide of a 15 year old boy from Manchester.

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The article claims that the game ‘dragged’ the boy in and played havoc with his thoughts, causing him to eventually commit suicide. The father of the boy goes on to claim that the game was keeping his son up at night, and the characters were encouraging the boy to commit acts (referring to his suicide).

I have played Doki Doki Literature Club myself, so I am fully aware that some of the claims about this game – such as the characters ‘texting you’ and ‘encouraging you to do things’ are completely false. However, the point of this article is not to belittle the father’s statement about the game. Whilst I disagree with the fear-mongering spin that the journalists most likely put on his words, I do not fault the father. When we experience such a horrible event, our brain does everything to try and rationalise the situation, and it’s easy to point fault at something that seems like a very obvious cause.

But is it, really?

Unless you were one of the very first people to play Doki Doki Literature Club, it is almost impossible to go into that game and assume that it’s your standard, run of the mill dating sim. The game is tagged as a ‘psychological horror’ first and foremost, and a warning is given at the beginning of the game, and every time you open it subsequently. You are also provided with a link to the games official website, which states the following:

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Yes, there are some tough issues in DDLC. We witness the girl you’re ‘dating’ hanging herself, another girl stabbing herself in the heart and bleeding out for you, alongside some disturbing text. It is correct to say that Doki Doki Literature Club is a disturbing game.

However, does that mean that it should be banned? Just because something is unsettling, should it really be purged? Should we get rid of all media that may contain content that is deemed ‘disturbing’? No, of course not. I am firmly under the belief that whilst entertainment sources, such as violent TV shows and video games could make people aware of these things, violence and violent/dangerous thoughts are not caused by them. This assumption, to me, gives off the impression that people who spend their time watching videos of a graphic nature are rather passive and stupid, unable to think for themselves.

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It is not a wise idea for anyone who is suffering from these awful thoughts to play games where the themes are prominent. When I considered suicide myself as a teenager, I knew to steer clear of certain TV shows and even songs, because some of the content that they covered would probably trigger thoughts in me that were rather dangerous for me to have. That being said, these thoughts were independent to myself. It was not because of violent media that I wanted to kill myself. Whilst I cannot speak for the poor boy who took his life, I don’t doubt that he had these thoughts long before he thought about opening up Doki Doki Literature Club.

The same can be said for the cases in which video games have been blamed for murderous behaviour, such as the most famous case in the shooting of Columbine High School, linked to the game DOOM. Indeed, seeing violence on screen may cause someone who already had violent thoughts PRIOR TO THE GAME to act upon them, but the chances of this are unlikely. It in fact seems more likely that violence in video games can actually act as catharsis as opposed to encouragement. At the present, there has been no research or evidence to suggest that the same can be said for mental health issues, but it is certainly a point to consider.

The truth of the matter is, I’m sick of the witch hunt. I’m tired of the blame being put on an easy target, and society refusing to take a look at themselves to understand what could drive people to such awful ends. Because I can say with fairly strong confidence, it certainly isn’t disturbing video games.

If you are suffering with disturbing or depressing thoughts, please do not hesitate to speak up. You are loved, you are so important, and the World is a brighter place with you in it. Find a list of international suicide hotlines here.

If you enjoy my content, and wish to support me, please consider buying me a Ko-Fi!

How do you guys weigh in on the video games and violence debate? I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Until next time!

 

10 thoughts on “[RANT] The Witch Hunt on Video Games, featuring Doki Doki Literature Club”

  1. Very interesting post. With the recent events that led to WHO dubbing video game addiction as an actual disorder, not just addiction, it is clear that old people still have an unhealthy bias towards games. They still want to blame every little thing on it, but thankfully, it is changing slowly.

    As for DDLC, one of my first ever posts was actually discussing the mental illnesses present in it, and how realistically they were portrayed:

    https://carnivorouslreviews.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/analysis-doki-doki-psychology-club-redux/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Way to come into the blogging scene with a bang!

      I’m glad it’s changing, slowly but surely. Yet it does seem sometimes that every time we make progress, the same arguments are brought up time and time again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yea. To piggy back off what you were saying….

    Yes.. music, movies, games, books, etc. can evoke certain emotions at certain times…that’s the point. That’s what entertainment is, but people cherry-pick when they make the arguments about things like leading people to take violent action. If the logic is that seeing it on screen or on page puts the thoughts in somebody’s head and causes them to act, then we better get rid of news reports that cover homicide or assault or burglary, too, or we’re not being consistent in the reasoning.

    There are plenty of people who have played DDLC and haven’t offed themselves, just as there are plenty of people who have played GTA and haven’t murdered a prostitute.

    I don’t want to write a novel in your comments section here, but I think a similar thing plays out in terms of media with sexualized content. For instance, the recent Valve/Steam ordeal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought about the news, too. We view fights, war, and all kinds of graphic, god awful happenings through the news. Yet you don’t hear that someone was ‘inspired by a news story’, desspite the fact that they don’t even have the barrier of fiction in the way of carrying out what they want to do.

      Regarding the sexual content issue, that really is a case of ‘Well, you should be aware of what your child is buying’, and if it’s not a child playing the game, then to me it is unnecessary to even worry about it. Violence may not be normal, but sex should not be demonised.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. They demonized Beatles in the 60s, blamed Ozzy Osborne for encouraging people to become satanists and Marilyn Manson for driving kids to commit suicide. In the 80s the debates went high on video violence and death metal. What people don’t understand they often blame. It’s not personal. Next month it’s something new the media will shout is evil and destroying our youth. The unfortunate thing is when there is a kid who has played a game like this goes and kills himself. He was clearly troubled before he played it and I can very well believe that the game could have triggered him to actually take the final step. Not everybody is able to stay away from the media they know are making them ill. That is actually a sign of recovery. He might not even have understood he was sick to begin with. Denial is one part of depression. I know myself that when I get depressed I tend to get drawn to destructive media. I am well aware of my depressive episodes though so I can spot them but a 15 year old don’t really have that ability. So, what I’m saying is; no it is not solely a games fault for driving someone to commit suicide but it can most definitely be the final drop for them to actually do it. If all the pieces of the puzzle is already there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree totally with you here. I too believe that maybe it could have been a factor (I know that I couldn’t view anything with that sort of content when I was 16 and suicidal), but I think to blame something entirely is close-minded and overall ridiculous.

      Oh, the death metal arguments. I’m so glad that’s toned down a little, the last music war I remember was the war on emo with My Chemical Romance.

      Thank you for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The thing that sucks is that this might never end. The mainstream media has always been attacking games, movies, music, even content creators(from Youtube, etc). It just goes on to show that they are low on empathy, and possibly, journalism, which also requires to study both sides. They are still trying to find out reasons, while they should instead be using their power to help spread awareness about things, such as mental illness and talking about and enouraging people to open up, instead of making them feel ashamed.

    Like

  5. Suicide is awful. I can’t begin to imagine what the victim’s family are going through, but it’s wrong of them to blame a game they don’t anything about. Some people are very quick to point the blame at video games, particularly the media.

    I have played the game myself, and although it is dark, I don’t see how it could be the sole reason for someone to commit suicide. There’s always the chance it could be a contributing factor to go alongside already existing feelings that person might have, but unfortunately no one really knows what’s going through other people’s minds.

    Liked by 1 person

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